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China/US WTO Talks To Resume

Talks on China's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO)will resume on the sidelines of APEC meetings in Auckland on Saturday. Scoop contributing writer John Howard reports.

Speaking in Canberra, President Jiang Zemin, says WTO would be on the agenda of his summit with "my old friend" President Bill Clinton when the two meet in Auckland.

The main WTO discussions would be held between US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and China's Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng and chief negotiator Long Yongtu.

Negotiations between the two countries were put on hold after Nato's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in May.

"Since late August, I've got repeated messages from the US expressing American desire to resume WTO talks," Mr Jiang said.

"Mr Clinton wrote me a letter on a resumption of WTO talks and I agree with him."

He said some press reports had wrongly claimed Beijing was the one pushing for a resumption of talks.

Mr Jiang said that due to "obstruction" by the US Congress, China and the US failed to agree on WTO talks during Premier Zhu Rongji's visit last April. He urged US congressmen to seize the opportunity this time.

"I hope the US Congress will understand the importance of such agreement to the US and does not obstruct the path to a bilateral agreement" he said.

Congressmen have been outspoken over the alleged theft, amongst other things, of US weapons technology by China.

Officials, however, were cooling expectations for an imminent breakthrough over China's admittance to the WTO.

US Commerce Secretary, William Daley, said China would have to make extra market-opening concessions to win US support. Chinese Trade Minister Mr Shi is also saying it is unlikely there would be any concrete discussions on WTO entry at Saturday's Auckland talks.

Meanwhile, President Jiang has strongly warned against any international attempt to apply pressure on Beijing to resolve cross - strait tension.

He stressed that Beijing, despite foreign pressure, would not renounce the use of force against Taiwan.

The warning, coming before Mr Jiang's APEC summit with President Clinton, signals that relations remain tense while the US promises to sell additional weapons to Taiwan worth $US 550 million.

© Scoop Media

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